The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are hoping three of their four selections in yesterday's CFL draft will make the team this season.
Bomber brass believes Windsor receiver Arjei Franklin (19th overall), Laval centre Dominic Picard (23rd) and Saskatchewan running back David Stevens (36th) all have legitimate shots at suiting up on Maroons Road this summer.
"We've had good drafts before, but if we could've thumbnailed three guys to pick going into this, these are the three guys we wanted, picking where we were picking," GM Brendan Taman said.
The Bombers also traded one of their sixth-round picks to the Montreal Alouettes for veteran defensive back Kelly Malveaux, and they selected Minot State defensive end Dexter Ross 49th overall.
Ross is expected to challenge for a special teams role.
The Bombers were pleased as punch to snag Franklin, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound speedster and two-time CIS all-Canadian.
"He's a guy that can have an immediate impact on our receiver position," head coach Doug Berry said.
Coincidentally, Franklin said he owes a lot of his success to former Bomber receiver Robert Gordon, as the pair worked out together for the past few years in Windsor.
"He really helped me out, helped me develop my skills and stuff," said Franklin. "So I kind of feel like I have a slight connection to the Blue Bombers already."
And Franklin can't wait to show off his wheels at the CFL level.
"I consider myself to be a pretty explosive player who can turn a short pass into a big play at any point in time," he said. "One of the things I think is important about a receiver is they have to be able to threaten going deep all the time."
Picard didn't have a strong showing at last month's CFL combine, but that didn't scare the Bombers away. Berry, in fact, is quite excited about his shotgun snapping skills.
Put pressure on
"That's not to say our centres last year couldn't block people, but the quarterback is looking for the ball here, he's looking for the ball there," said Berry. "I'm going to put pressure on the centres that we're bringing back to make sure that the quarterback gets the ball where he's expecting to get the ball.
"Picard can shotgun snap. The competition is going to be there."
Picard isn't afraid of a challenge. He found out in November 2004 that he had testicular cancer and had to miss Laval's march to their second straight Vanier Cup title.
He had surgery immediately after the diagnosis and was declared cancer-free just two months later.
"I was very lucky," said Picard. "I was ready to play in our spring camp and (got) back my confidence there and then (had) a great year last year.
"You have to have a great character, and that's what I have."